My mother always taught me to mind the company I keep

by Richard on October 12, 2010

David Hallam’s lawsuit against the Methodist Church, announced more than a week ago, still hasn’t materialised as far as I can tell. His website is claiming growing international support, though as commenter Michael has observed, the number of supportive comments he has received is rather limited and media coverage remains sparse. Perhaps I’m mis-reading the situation, but I think if I were in the Methodist Preacher’s shoes I’d be feeling more than a bit disappointed.

Perhaps it is disappointment that has prompted David to seek solace in company which he must surely be finding distinctly uncomfortable. Today, he points us to an article in the Spectator headed Decency fights back in which Melanie Phillips bizarrely links the resignation of an Emeritus Professor of Physics from the American Physical Society (over climate change) with David’s threatened law suit. I dare say his blog will have received plenty of additional traffic as a result of the link, but I wonder if he doesn’t feel slightly soiled by it.

After all, this would be the Melanie Phillips whose religious tolerance leads her to call our capital city Londonistan, whose scientific credentials are established by her scare-mongering over MMR, and whose politics are laid bare in her description as a a great intellect and truth teller by the anti-Islamic darling of the Tea Party movement Pamela Geller - a women who has given support to the fascists of the English Defence League.

I could be wrong, but if I were in David’s position I’d be considering where all this is leading.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }


Pam 10.13.10 at 12:38 am

Your mother gave you sound advice about “the company you keep”. I was always a bit of a rebel when my mum handed me advice though!
I know you will remain a friend to David and offer sincere advice at this time - sometimes our concern is heeded and we are pleasantly surprised.
Pam’s wise message of the day - now finished!


Kim 10.13.10 at 9:11 am

Let’s not lose our heads here. “Beware of the company you keep” was, of course, a dictum that the scribes and Pharisees hurled at Jesus (e.g. Mark 2:16). The next thing you know, appeal will be made to II Corinthians 6:14ff., a passage which, even if it is not (as is argued by many) an alien intrusion, needs to be handled with more care than is usual - it’s the textual weapon of choice for the self-righteous and sectarian. Not, of course, that I don’t take Richard’s point about the crazed harpy Melanie Phillips. I think the appropriate dictum should read: “Beware when the deranged and repugnant agree with what you say.”

Also, to describe Richard as a “friend” to David Hallam? A Fail in Word-Care. Richard loves David - but precisely as a theological foe.


Pam 10.13.10 at 9:14 am

That’s what always irks me about “Christian” love - the lack of friendship. It’s like “I’ve gotta love ya, Christ says so”. Cold, cold, cold.


Kim 10.13.10 at 9:19 am

Pam, Jesus said to love our enemies, but he never said we wouldn’t have them. Indeed his whole project ensures that we will. Cold, cold, cold - I think you mistake love for a warm feeling.


Richard 10.13.10 at 9:35 am

Love is not (merely) a feeling, but it should be warm. Duty doesn’t have to be cold! And, for my money, both love and friendship are measured by actions. Despite what David may think, my animosity is towards what he is doing not towards him. And he knows that, when he has asked for my help in the past, he’s had it.

Kim - I take your point about the headline. But I think, on this occasion, I’ll allow myself just a little self-righteous sectarianism in relation to Melanie Phillips and her fellow-travellers.


Pam 10.13.10 at 9:35 am

Love is many things, including a warm feeling. I feel passion for a certain person, deep warm feelings for my children (love), etc etc. No mistakes there and if there is I’m happy to make those mistakes. You underestimate me Kim.


Pam 10.13.10 at 9:50 am

Richard’s reply came through just before mine. Some good words there but I feel if I’m not on your “side” I’m really on the outer. Would that be a correct assumption?


Richard 10.13.10 at 10:04 am

Speaking for myself, but quoting St Paul — “By no means!”

I’ve always — always!! — welcomed disagreement, however robust. The only side that counts is “the Lord’s side”


Pam 10.13.10 at 10:14 am

Thanks for that. My hope is that you are both on “the Lord’s side”.


PamBG 10.13.10 at 11:05 am

but I feel if I’m not on your “side” I’m really on the outer. Would that be a correct assumption?

To be honest, I think that this sort of understanding is precisely the kind of understanding that leads to the sort of problems we’re having in this debate: “If you are not on my side / don’t agree with me, you must be both stupid and against me, so there is no point in trying to understand your point of view.”

(n.b. I am not talking to myself, Pam and PamBG are two different people!)


dh 10.13.10 at 8:46 pm

Kim, I agree the passage does need to be handled with care. That is why the passage is very clear and it is great that I’m not “self-righteous or sectarian” unless one thinks that Jesus is sectarian when He says “If you deny Me I will deny you before My Father in heaven. If you accept Me I will accept you before My Father in heaven.” or sectarian when He says “Be ye Holy even as your Father in heaven is Holy.” If one wants to see this as sectarian then that would truly show the level of rebllion towards God regarding God’s call for us to be in relationship to Him as well as the desire for us as Believers to be Holy as part of that relationship with Him. Not unlike the analogy of a father telling his son not to place your hand on a hot stove.


Pam 10.14.10 at 6:46 am

Pam BG,
Am only just home from work so am replying rather late to your comment. I wasn’t suggesting Richard was into payback but he didn’t bother to reply to my first comment until Kim intervened. He “blesses” the first person to sign the iPetition and once again doesn’t reply to my comment. Once I made a strong point, it was action stations. This is from my point of view. It is obviously not the point of view you think I should have.
btw, when I think about Kim’s comments I often find them annoying, but on reflection he’s usually spot-on (it’s just that cold aura I find a bit unsettling). You may think he’s the warmest person around - but yes, we are two different people - Pam and Pam BG.


Richard 10.14.10 at 7:53 am

Err… umm…

Not sure how to respond to this. If were talking about this thread, it isn’t so much that I didn’t “bother” to reply to your comment, so much that I wasn’t able to. On account of being in bed, and then getting the family out of the door for school/work. Your comments are welcomed Pam and so are you. I’m sorry if I’ve given any other impression.


Pam 10.14.10 at 8:18 am

Richard, I was replying to Pam BG’s comment. We each look at a situation from our own viewpoint and I was giving my viewpoint that’s all. I certainly don’t expect everyone to fall over and starting typing their replies immediately I post a comment. I know with my own family there is competition for our pc and we have a rule about turning the computer off by a certain time each night.
I’m not always going to agree with you (or Kim. er, especially Kim!). Won’t be around for a few days as we’re going to Canberra for a wedding - you can look forward to another Poem of the Week soon!!:)


Richard 10.14.10 at 8:24 am

Have a grand time Pam


Kim 10.14.10 at 8:38 am


Here is a poem by Elizabeth Jennings that I threw into my daughter’s suggestion box for wedding poetry - she is getting married on October 3oth. It’s called “Friendship”.

Such love I cannot analyse;
It does not rest in lips or eyes,
Neither in kisses nor caress.
Partly, I know, it’s gentleness.

And understanding in one word
Or in brief letters. It’s preserved
By trust and by respect and awe.
These are the words I’m feeling for.

Two people, yes, two lasting friends.
The giving comes, the taking ends.
There is no measure for such things.
For this all Nature slows and sings.

On this one I bet we both agree: that’s one beautiful poem. Alas, my daughter has chosen another!

I hope the wedding in Canberra is so good you won’t remember it!


Pam 10.14.10 at 9:06 am

What a warm gesture Kim. And we do agree - it is a beautiful poem.
“Two people, yes, two lasting friends.
The giving comes, the taking ends.”
Marriage in two lines.
I will enjoy the wedding - I have a new pair of high-heel shoes!!
Enjoy your daughter’s special day.

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